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Jimmy Rollins speaks frankly about race and baseball

Apr 12, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT

Jimmy Rollins

Andy Martino of the Daily News spoke to Jimmy Rollins about the decline of U.S.-born blacks in baseball and Rollins gave a lot of thoughtful answers.

The upshot: there are a lot of none-too-easy to address reasons why more black kids don’t go into baseball these days. Some cultural, some sociological, none of which lend themselves very well to committee-based solutions like MLB seems to be pursuing. He also talks about baseball’s inherent conservative nature and how it just isn’t as appealing to black kids these days.

Definitely worth your time.

  1. Robert Dobalina - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    ” As Rollins sees it, race, ethnicity and skin color remain major underlying issues in baseball, as in society. “When they see me, they see brown skin out of the gate, before they see anything,” Rollins said.

    Who, I asked him, was “they?””

    I couldn’t disagree with Jimmy more with this statement. Sure, there are going to be some people who still, in 2013, look at a person as black, white, or whatever first. But for me personally, I take offense to be included in that “they” he is referring to here. I love Jimmy, but he needs to understand that when I see Ryan Howard, I don’t see a black man. I see “The Big Piece” My son has his fathead on his wall because I put it there. because he’s my favorite player. He’s not my favorite “black” player. And Ryan Howard is on every Subway commercial you see during the baseball season.

    Maybe Jimmy needs a new agent or something. Howard is with CAA who have a marketing branch to their huge company. I don’t know much about Dan Lozano, but when Jimmy won the MVP, he probably should have been on some commercials hawking products and he was not.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      I really hate it when people say they don’t see someone’s race. Of course you do. That’s like looking at me and not noticing I’m female. You see it. If you mean you don’t have a negative reaction because of it, okay. But, you see it. Just like you see how tall he is or his build or whether or not he has a beard. It’s just an obviously untrue thing to say to claim you don’t observe someone’s race.

      • Ben - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:01 PM

        The most insidious form of racism is the claim to not see race. Colorblind means willfully ignorant.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:03 PM

        Yes, and it discredits what you say after that b/c you’ve indicated that you are either clueless or disingenuous.

      • Robert Dobalina - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:06 PM

        Your post makes sense, but I think I am more disagreeing with this specific part of his statement…

        “they see brown skin out of the gate, before they see anything,”

        I see many things before I see his race. I see his Phillies uniform. I see his Phillies cap. I see his great smile, which no matter how crappy they are doing, always makes me laugh. What I don’t see is “Chase Utley…white player” and “Jimmy Rollins…black player” and when Jimmy says what I quoted above, that’s what I feel like he is trying to say. Which, for me, is unfair.

        However, I don’t begrudge him feeling that way, and I’m not necessarily saying he is 100% wrong. I’m fat, and I feel people look at me as a fat guy “out of the gate”. Why? Well, that’s just my perception. Same with Jimmy’s perception of being a black guy. So from a certain point of view, I can see what he is saying. But again, that doesn’t explain how popular nationally Ryan Howard is.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        But, you do see his race — it just doesn’t have negative connotations for you. Unfortunately, not everyone is like that and Rollins knows that going in. Now, does that preclude him from being a respected player, etc? No. Absolutely not. It’s there, but it’s important not to let things stop there.

      • pilonflats - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        sorry, but you have to understand that not everyone sees the world like you do. you should watch the hbo documentary on larry bird and magic Johnson where larry talks about race. hopefully you will learn something.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:22 PM

        Oh, no. You’re not getting me to watch any basketball stuff.

      • GoneYickitty - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:35 PM

        I really hate it when people insist that everyone else is a racist. And then when someone else says that race really doesn’t occur to them it’s some absurd proof they’re a racist.

        Yes, of course one can tell looking at Jimmy Rollins that he is black. Sandy Koufax looks Jewish if you’re of the mindset to determine such things. And Verlander looks like he hasn’t shaved for a few days. Yep, I can notice all of those things, but it doesn’t mean that any of those observations has any kind of elevated status in all of the hundreds of attributes that combine to differentiate one human being from the next and make it possible for us to recognize people. Jimmy Rollins’ race is no more a factor in my evaluation of him than any other natural characteristic such as height, build, posture, facial structure, etc.

        Unless you’re stupid, you should know that when someone says they don’t see race, they don’t mean that they literally can’t tell. Rather, then mean that it has no bearing whatsoever on the way they evaluate others. I can tell what color your eyes are, I just don’t care at all.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:41 PM

        I didn’t say he was a racist. I said he was making a nonsensical statement that discredited the other things he said because it was untrue. Because I am not stupid, I want him to use different words so I know what he’s thinking b/c you absolutely can’t assume that when people say they don’t see race they mean they don’t care about it. I can introduce you to some racists who will say the same thing. I’m not saying Dobalina is one of those people — I can’t tell, hence the need to use better wording. I really wasn’t attacking him. I meant it more as a general statement.

      • Jonestein - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:36 PM

        @hist – Good gawd that was a ridiculous comment. Does it really need to be explained to you that when one says they “don’t see race/gender” they mean it’s not a factor in their immediate thoughts about someone?

        When I hear “Jimmy Rollins”, I don’t think “Oh, the black dude that plays shortstop for the Phillies?”, I simply think “Oh, the shortstop for the Phillies.” The fact that he’s black is a non-factor in the thought process.

        Is that so hard to believe, or are you saying that everyone is inherently racist/sexist?

      • Robert Dobalina - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        historio…no offense, but I do believe you are picking some nits with me ;)

        I never ever ever ever said that I don’t see race. I said I don’t see race FIRST. BIG difference, don’t you think? Jimmy, on the other hand, is saying that “they see brown skin out of the gate”.

      • indaburg - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        I agree, ‘philiac. The number of thumbs down you are receiving is disheartening, because that means people don’t get it. Unless you’re completely literally blind, of course you notice someone’s skin color. Our skin is one of our most obvious features.

        Simply say, “it makes no difference to me what someone’s race or color is” if that is what you mean. But to say you don’t see it at all? Even if the former statement is what is implied–that it makes no difference, it still sounds condescending to say you don’t see it. There is nothing wrong with recognizing that a man is black, white, or Asian. (Another pet peeve of mine is people who add on colors that aren’t humanly possible. Just stop.)

        I don’t mean to pile on to Robert, because it does seem like he’s trying to come from the right place, and I don’t think he means to offend. This dialogue, I think, is a good thing.

      • Robert Dobalina - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:48 PM

        Ladies, please point out to me where I wrote the words “I Don’t See A Person’s Race” without using the word “FIRST” after saying it.

        Again…Jimmy’s point is that “they” see his brown skin FIRST. My point is that I do NOT. That’s it.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:54 PM

        See, now you really are just seeming delusional. Clearly this is not going anywhere, so have a nice day.

      • Francisco (FC) - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:38 PM

        There is nothing wrong with recognizing that a man is black, white, or Asian. (Another pet peeve of mine is people who add on colors that aren’t humanly possible. Just stop.)

        The Fuchsia Jellyfish people want a word with you.

      • skids003 - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:39 PM

        I understand the point you’re trying to make, histrio.

      • madhatternalice - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:44 PM

        @GoneYickitty

        “Sandy Koufax looks Jewish if you’re of the mindset to determine such things.”

        You want to explain this quote, maybe? What exactly does a Jewish person look like? Judaism is a religion, not a race.

        In all the passive-aggressive racist comments in these comments, this is (to me) the most egregious.

      • paperlions - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:53 PM

        I didn’t take Rollin’s statement about “they” and what “they” see as particular to people looking at him. I took it as everyone belongs to some race (or combination of them) and one of the first things people note (consciously or otherwise) that form expectations is race. That is just a fact. People not a lot of things: race, age, sex, dress, cleanliness, attitude, jewelry, tattoos, etc….and whether you like it or not, you do form a starting point for expectation of interaction based on those things, and you form it almost immediately and without effort. It is a biological mechanism…and the exact same one that other animals perform when they see things and immediately form an expectation of interaction.

        So….I didn’t take what Rollins said as a perception of racism, but just as a basic perception of how the world works…especially when most of the people that see him do so remotely and never have any direct interaction with him. Because EVERYONE forms expectations immediately based on appearance….I’m not sure where he was going with it, because the interview didn’t really go anywhere on any topic.

      • paperlions - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        As a personal example, since I was 18 the first thing people general saw on which they based their expectations of me was long hair. Eventually, most people overcame their pre-conception about what a guy with hair 1/2 way down his back (or, more recently), to my waist, should do and act like. Add a long bushy beard to that, and the perception changes again, quite a bit, actually. It would be the acme of blissful ignorance to act like those attributes do not inform people’s preconceptions of what I am like, what I do, or how I am.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:03 PM

        Oh, please. They are judging you by your t-shirts.

      • paperlions - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:07 PM

        T-shirtist! Latent T-shirtism is the worst.

        **I am not making light of anything people, just a joke.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        Ochre sweaters now, ochre sweaters tomorrow, ochre sweaters forever!

      • paperlions - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:01 PM

        Yeah, vampires do live a long time….so ochre sweaters forever does make sense.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:09 PM

        Pbbblt!

      • GoneYickitty - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:06 PM

        madhatternalice,

        About your quote … “You want to explain this quote, maybe? What exactly does a Jewish person look like? Judaism is a religion, not a race.”

        I knew that someone who hadn’t gone to school would get tripped up on my Koufax comment. There is a Jewish religion. There is also a Jewish race. The people, many of whom live in Israel, who may or may not be religious, and who describe themselves as having Jewish ancestry, what race do you think they are? Lol. And only someone who hasn’t been around Jews at all would be so clueless not to know there are some general characteristics, just as there are with every other race on earth.

        I love the politically correct simple-minded folk.

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        On point Philiac. We are so sensitive to it that people actually claim to not notice it for fear of being labeled racist. Yeah…we all see like the terminator. No race. No gender. Just…heat. We only see heat. Very similar to some snakes. What a joke.

      • thesixersbench - Apr 12, 2013 at 5:39 PM

        This is the point where you cut your losses and just stop talking. I’m embarrassed for you.

    • El Bravo - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      I’ll I have to say to you is this: Mr Dobalina, Mr Bob Dobalina, Mr Dobalina, Mr Bob Doballina, Mr Dobalina won’t you quit! MR BOB DOBALINA!!!

    • indaburg - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      In your initial comment, third paragraph, fourth sentence:

      “I love Jimmy, but he needs to understand that when I see Ryan Howard, I don’t see a black man.”

      Again, I think you meant well, but that sentence. Whoa.

      • Robert Dobalina - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:28 PM

        “You “think” I meant well, but…Whoa”? Seriously?

        Holy Taking One Sentence Completely Out of Context Batman.

        I’m starting to feel like I need to call in the Reverend Al Sharpton and have a press conference to explain myself saying that when I see Ryan Howard “I don’t see a black man”? Geeze. Maybe I should have used those dreaded ellipses so that you would not forget to include the words after that portion that you so blatantly cut out…”I see “The Big Piece…my favorite player”

      • indaburg - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:36 PM

        You asked where did I say that without including the word first. I pointed it out. Now, you state that it was taken out of context instead of saying, “Oh, yeah. My bad. Not what I meant.” Defensive much? So much for open dialogue. I give up. Good day, sir.

      • Robert Dobalina - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:42 PM

        But you took out the line without including the next line, which is the part that thought that explains the “FIRST”-ness of what I was saying. When I see Ryan Howard, I don’t see a black man…I see the Big Piece…my favorite player. it was all one thought, and you unfairly took out the first part without including the context.

        I’m all for open dialog, but be fair about it and don’t take one line out of a paragraph without including the rest of the paragraph as context. If that offends you, then I apologize.

      • indaburg - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:52 PM

        The next line also doesn’t include the word “first” not does it speak to the essence of “first-ness.” I quoted your sentence verbatim without changing a thing. The following sentence, which you quoted, makes it worse, actually. You basically reiterated that you don’t see his color by saying what you do see.

        Al Sharpton? Really? Bringing an extremist figure whose methods in the past have been at best controversial is not the way to keep an open dialogue.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        And then he played the Al Sharpton card.

        Bahahahahahaha! So much for reasonable discussion.

      • Robert Dobalina - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:59 PM

        “No Mas”

        Have a great weekend ladies.

      • hisgirlgotburrelled - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:21 PM

        “Sure, there are going to be some people who still, in 2013, look at a person as black, white, or whatever first”

        I read this like ‘people judge others by their race first,’ so then when he says “I don’t see Ryan Howard as a black man” that the “see” is not in a literal sense and the “first” from the first quote is implied through the paragraph. Jimmy did not mean “see” in the literal sense that people see that he has brown skin, but that people judge him right away based on his skin color.

        I think the guy meant well and was just trying to say he doesn’t judge someone by their skin. There are still too many people that don’t think this way and still teach it to their kids. Those are the people Jimmy really is talking about. I don’t think he means to say that every white person judges him by his skin first. Just like Robert doesn’t mean to say he doesn’t recognize someone’s race.

      • indaburg - Apr 12, 2013 at 5:59 PM

        I understand. I think stlouis actually hit the nail on the head when he said: “We are so sensitive to it that people actually claim to not notice it for fear of being labeled racist.” It’s an over-correction. I’m saying, as a person of color, that of course you notice my race and it’s okay to acknowledge it. It’s what you do with that observation that is the difference.

    • madhatternalice - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      Nice try, GoneYikkety, but I can see that your education has failed you.

      Judaism is a religion. But to answer your poorly-worded question:

      “The people, many of whom live in Israel, who may or may not be religious, and who describe themselves as having Jewish ancestry, what race do you think they are?”

      I think they’re Hebrew. Hebrews are a race. Judaism is a religion, and non-Jews have blurred it into some sort of race. But anything that you can convert to can’t be considered a race. Can I become African-American? No, I can’t. Even if I go in for surgeries and the like, all I’d ever be is a caucasian with black skin. But Judaism? Again, I go back to “What does a Jewish person look like?” You can’t answer that question, because Judaism, at its core and for the Jewish people, isn’t a race.

      Perhaps you are just speaking colloquially, as the definition of “race” changed (or shifted) in the early 20th century.

      Even if I were to accept your premise, can you identify the physical traits that the “Jewish race” possess? Anything? Just give me one physical trait that identifies someone, beyond the shadow of a doubt, as Jewish, and I’ll eat my hat.

      So, yes, I’ll take my 15 years of Hebrew school, my bar-mitzvah, and 6 years of Rabbinical training over your outside observations, thanks.

  2. pilonflats - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    when I see rollins, I don’t see his race, I see his .328 career on base percentage

  3. ryand17 - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    I do NOT think that article is worth the read. He’s just spewing crap that’s way more prevalent in his own head than in everyone else’s. He, along with Ryan Howard have been the face of that team for the past decade. Maybe he wasn’t on any MVP covers because he was about the 8th best player that season and aside from having a bunch of cool slash line counting stats, his team went 3 and out in the playoffs.

    • dsmaxsucks - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      That’s all very interesting for you, and I suppose your opinion is as valuable as anyone else’s. You are, however, spewing your own crap.

      1. Don’t even pretend Roy Halladay is not a prime face of the Phillies, and boy there sure was some love going around for Shane Victorino before he left. (Seriously, Shane Victorino).

      2. Rollins is addressing national issues, and you respond by addressing local issues. You should get a talk radio job, as your straw man and out of context argument make you primed for the field.

      3. When you say his thoughts more prevalent in his head than in everyone else’s it is probably more convincing if you were to back that up with something other than what you heard in a bar. It is apparent (there are studies, which everyone nitpicks while Rollins addresses the issue) that African American youth play ball less than they used to. It is also apparent that this could have an impact on future attendance and popularity of America’s game. Businesses do pay attention to such things, and Jimmy Rollins has legitimate insight as to what is happening IN THE COUNTRY.

      4. When you say something is not worth reading you are actually putting a high price on, you know, reading. Keep at it, it gets easier.

      • Robert Dobalina - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:18 PM

        Dude, if you don’t know that Ryan Howard is THE face of the Phillies then you simply have no clue what the hell you are talking about.

    • thegreatcluck - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      The “face” of the Phillies is not Rollins or Howard or Hamels or Utley or Halladay. Since the retirement of Schmidt (and possibly even before that) the face of the Phillies has been the Phanatic.

      • Robert Dobalina - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:30 PM

        You are clearly a racist who favors the color green above all other races. I bet you always thought Kermit was the face of the Muppets and that hot green chick from Star Trek was the best part of that show too.

      • heyblueyoustink - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        She wasn’t?

      • Robert Dobalina - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        I’d take Uhura over her anytime. Of course, Zoe Saldana is super hot with a great rack. But God Forbid I mention that I noticed her rack before I noticed her skin color, then I must be a closet racist or delusional.

    • thebadguyswon - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      It isn’t worth it. I read it anyway, but its the same old tired takes.

      Maybe black kids don’t like baseball because a) it takes more kids to play or b) they find it boring.

      Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with race or the politics of the players.

  4. barrywhererufrom - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    wow..as a person who came from a single parent household I could disagree with Rollins point about that being a factor. I played baseball all through high school. That being said some of his other points are pretty interesting. I think I should use a better word than interesting. Some points..Derek Jeter basically doesn’t have street cred. I know he is black but he is not black. And amusing point the conservative nature of baseball. Hey J-Roll what do you want? After you hit a homerun you want to point in the stands at everyone as you round the bases? Players are much more animated today then they were in the past. Another tid bit that I found interesting. When you are drafted you don’t go right to the major leagues. Well guess what pal..baseball is very hard sport to play. It’s what makes it great. It’s a skill. If you aren’t willing to put the time in and hone your skills you get weeded out. Tough break. You can not use your physical dominance to hit a baseball. Other sports you can dominate because of your size. If you through mid 90’s and you don’t locate your fastball you get rocked. Tough sport..Finally the idea that African-American players are not marketed enough may be his most valid point. I know Andrew McCutchen is on MLB 13’S cover this year. It’s good to see. But it means nothing if someone who wanted to play professionally has other options. If you were good enough to play other sports collegiately which one would you take? The one that its easier to make it to the sport(NFL, NBA) when you drafted-or MLB where even though you have great physical talents you are still not ready to make to the big leagues. Sadly we know where some of the great athletes are going..and its not baseball

    • carpi2 - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:23 PM

      Interesting point you make Barry. Baseball is just not popular in the African-American culture. At first glance you can “blame” the fact that baseball is viewed as an “elitist” sport in America. Most kids who are serious about baseball end up spending a lot of money on equipment, skills camps, summer/winter/spring/fall leagues, etc. However, the kids in Latin American find a way to made-do with what they have; and most those kids are poorer than the poorest American kid.

      So the issue at whole is more a perception issue than a “the means necessary to play the game” issue. I remember watching a cover story on Outside the Line, where historically Black colleges’ baseball teams had to actively recruit White kids to fill their rosters. They couldn’t find black players, even though they had scholarships to give away! That right there is the most telling factor about this whole issue. It has nothing to do with socioeconomic.

      • barrywhererufrom - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:58 PM

        Carpi2 its all about options. If you are a great athlete you are going to have options. I know baseball has some of them. The skilled position players in football are loaded with them. The same goes for basketball. Rollins blamed the culture of the game. My point was that if you are not willing to hone your skills you are not going to make it the major leagues. The refining of a players talent must continue even after they drafted. Their are some like Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton et al who come up with minimal or no time in the minor leagues. You just are not going to see that with the majority of the blue chip prospects make the leap the big leagues right away. If you had the chance to make millions right away would you wait? I think that is a part of it the problem. I would love to see a study to see why certain athlete’s played their chose the sport they play. I know John Kruk played baseball because football and basketball were too easy for him..

  5. thomas844 - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    I don’t see what baseball’s conservatism has to do with keeping black kids away, Brandon Phillips is black, an Obama supporter (as revealed on his Twitter account), and he is loved by his teammates and an overall fan favorite here in Cincinnati (I am a conservative and he is my favorite player), so politics should not even have a place in this discussion. I’m sure there are even some black players who lean conservative (Gasp! Is that possible?!)

    • mississippimusicman - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      It may have had more to do with the non-political meaning of the word “conservative” in this context–resistant to change.

    • detroitr1 - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      Conservative as in ‘subdued’ patterns of expression in the game–not voting patterns or ideology.

  6. illcomm - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    I wouldn’t just say some people look at the colour of someone’s skin. lots of people do. I live in philly and most everyone is accepting of one another regardless or race or creed, but everyone notices when the “right” or “wrong” person walks down the neighborhood. this goes for all races and creeds in all of the different sections of philly. Rollins is still just pointing out the obvious prejudices that still exist in today’s culture. like George Carlin once said. everyone just has to keep mating with one another untill everyone looks the same. then and only then will these prejudices not exist.

  7. deathmonkey41 - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    Does he also speak frankly about swinging at first pitches and popping up frequently?

  8. joejaws75 - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    When I see jimmy I see a great shortstop not a great black shortstop. When u see Carlos Ruiz I see a great catcher not a great Panamanian catcher. When I see Cliff Lee I see a great left handed pitcher. Get the point. I’m a phillies fan. Not a white phillies fan

    • mississippimusicman - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:26 PM

      I agree–when I see the Braves outfield, I see where fly balls go to die, and couldn’t care less about the demographics.

    • Francisco (FC) - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      When I see Cliff Lee I see a great left handed pitcher.

      Aha! You admit you’re leftist then!

      • historiophiliac - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        Are you with me in hoping that Delmon Young becomes the face of the Phillies?

      • Francisco (FC) - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        David Montgomery: Ruben, when I said we needed to appeal to our local youth, that our franchise had to express athleticism, energy, in one word: Young.

        THAT was not what I was talking about.

      • Robert Dobalina - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:35 PM

        If it means he puts up 200 HRs and 560 RBI the next 4 years, I would have no problem with Delmon Young taking over Ryan Howard as the face of the Phillies. That being said, I doubt it is going to happen.

  9. skipp - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    So I guess Jimmy’s not aware that “42” is coming out? Probably the biggest baseball movie in a while, potentially ever. Seems like a pretty big marketing effort to me.

  10. nolanwiffle - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    I will never understand all the hand wringing over this “issue”.

  11. papichulo55 - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    I applaud Jimmy for taking the time an effort. However, I think a less race-centric view of the problem and the solution might help. Not to besmirch the current American MLBer but one could argue that baseball is losing its best young athletes to football and basketball across all racial lines. It might be more pronounced, and visible, with African Americans, but that doesnt make it an African American problem. Baseball has lost its ‘Swag’ with the young athlete, in general. Local youth basketball and football games are standing-room only event in Philly. Baseball games were that popular, fifty years ago
    in North Philly. Jimmy should go to Fairmont Park at 33rd and Dauphin.
    Those five diamonds were full of African American players and fans, fifty years ago. Personally remember seeing Reggie Jackon and Jeff Leonard as teens. My father remembers Roy Campanella. Today, the diamonds empty,
    used as parking lots for the shows at the nearby ampitheatre.

    Todays kids love ‘Swag’. Color and ethnicity dont matter. Maybe
    a helping hand can be extended to youth league using those diamonds. Maybe Jimmy can get Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels to show up in their Silver Shadows at the diamonds. Cook some food, a little fashion show, get some Rappers to show….

    Baseball is too damn isolated from Pop culture. Football and Basketball has done a much better job of staying Fresh. We are going down a side road towards a solution because we have mis-diagnosed the problem as being racially based. Its not about being African American Jimmy. Just show us your Swag!

    • Francisco (FC) - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:52 PM

      Baseball has lost its ‘Swag’ with the young athlete, in general. Local youth basketball and football games are standing-room only event in Philly.

      In the interview, Jimmy does point out how Baseball at the youth level isn’t as big a draw as the equivalent Basketball and Football events. So he did include that in his factors.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      I thought that’s kinda what he was getting at when he talked about how conservative baseball is. It’s still Jackie Robinson and kids today have moved on. They want something edgy — not the cornfields in Iowa.

  12. papichulo55 - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    @Francisco. Exactly! Jimmy did mention the root cause, then proceeded to inappropriately play the race card. Served us a steak with a side order of BS!

    When MLB decides to make the game more appealing to ALL young American athletes, the African American youth will respond.

    I am not hatin on Jimmy. He is most definetly part of the solution. He just needs to refocus.

  13. blacksables - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:43 PM

    How come when minorities speak ‘frankly about race’, everything they say is taken at face value, but when white people speak ‘frankly about race’, they’re just a bunch of racists?

  14. anythingbutyanks - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    I posted this the other day in response to a different discussion on the issue of race in baseball (with a few changes made here to keep it relevant):
    American born black people make up about 12.6% of the population of the United States, and 8.5% of MLB players. Considering that over 25% of MLB players on opening day rosters are foreign born, if we assume that the effect of foreign born players suppresses the rate of American born players equally across the races, then you would expect the rate of American born black players to be about 9.5% of MLB if it reflected the population at large. There are about 850 players on opening day rosters and inactive lists, so the difference between the actual population of African Americans (8.5%) and a proportional population (9.5%) is about 9 players. While it is significant that the rate has steadily declined over the past two decades, the truth is that the number of African Americans in pro baseball is almost exactly what it should be if there is no racial or cultural bias at work.

  15. kingsforever - Apr 12, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    Tell me more Moses….
    Someone tell Moses over here it’s 2013, shush already

  16. crisisofinfinitephils - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    Andy Martino is also the same concern troll who said the harsh treatment Luis Castillo received was due to race and not sucking. So there’s that.

  17. banger60 - Apr 13, 2013 at 5:26 AM

    I thought he was taking about tonight’s Nascar race and baseball, my bad!

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